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CASLPA Highlights Need for Greater Action on Aboriginal Access to Hearing and Speech-Language Professionals

Ottawa, Jan. 24, 2012 – The Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA) recognized that today’s historic meeting between the Government and First Nations leaders will help eliminate barriers to access important health care services in Aboriginal communities.

“Healthcare for Aboriginal communities is an ongoing issue of concern and there is an unaddressed need for speech-language pathology and audiology services in Canada’s First Nations communities,” said CASLPA Executive Director Joanne Charlebois. “The lack of access to such services has major repercussions. When left untreated and undiagnosed, speech, language and hearing disorders become more difficult to treat and can lead to long-term learning and social problems.”Fortunately, there has been some progress, but more needs to be done. Effective January 1, 2012, the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) announced that audiologists are now recognized prescribers of audiology equipment and services which will facilitate access to these services by Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Previously, prescribing for audiology services was restricted to physicians or nurse practitioners and given the remoteness of some communities, access to these professionals was often limited. This change eliminates the need to wait for medical appointments, which could significantly increase wait times.

“More work still needs to be done to improve access to speech-language pathology and audiology services in Canada’s Aboriginal communities” said Charlebois.

CASLPA, with grant funding from Health Canada, has been working to develop a better understanding of the context of access to these services in Canada’s First Nations communities. It has confirmed that gaps exist, and that there is a need for a better understanding of the prevalence of speech, language and hearing disorders. “The best hope from today’s meeting and follow-up efforts is that it will lead to more innovative and holistic approaches to providing services to Canada’s First Nations people,” concluded Charlebois. “The services provided by CASLPA’s members are an important part of that solution, and we have been working to ensure that we are in the best position possible to serve this community. The Government has taken steps to make it easier for us to help Aboriginal peoples; we hope that they continue this progress.”

CASLPA, with over 6,000 members, is the only national body that supports and represents the professional needs of speech-language pathologists, audiologists and supportive personnel inclusively within one organization. Through this support, CASLPA champions the needs of people with hearing and communication disorders. Visit CASLPA at www.caslpa.ca or learn more at www.speechandhearing.ca

For further information:
Krystle van Hoof, Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Telephone: 613-567-9968 ext. 241
Email: [email protected]